Easy Homemade Chelsea Buns are the perfect afternoon treat. Sweet and spicy fruit filled soft rolls topped with a sticky glaze. Even more delicious when served hot from the oven, just as they were at the original Chelsea Bun House.
A classic sweet bake with an easy all in one basic bun recipe. I’ve used a lighter dough for a quicker rise whilst also delivering a lovely soft texture.
Unlike a richer dough, my dough is ready after one and a half hours. I’ve gone with traditional flavours of spice and dried fruit in my Easy Homemade Chelsea Buns.
Yeasted sweet buns are a regular bake here at the Kitchen Shed. Throughout the year, they include Wholemeal Hot Cross Buns at Easter and my Tear and Share Iced Buns at Christmas. And I definitely don’t need any excuse to serve up a batch of my Belgian Buns.
Similarly, Chelsea Buns remain a firm family favourite. “The Best Chelsea Buns”, as my sister calls them, have been know to provide breakfast as well as a teatime treat. I hope you enjoy making and eating your Homemade Chelsea Buns as much as we do.
What are Chelsea Buns ?
A classic Chelsea Bun is made from an enriched dough that is rolled and filled with dried fruit, sugar and spice.
Coils of filled dough are baked in a square tin to give the buns their distinctive shape. Once baked they’re topped with a sugar glaze.
“Sugary, spicy, sticky, square and coiled like a Swiss roll” is how Elizabeth David describes a Chelsea Bun.
In the 18th century, the Chelsea Bun House was famous for its Hot Cross Buns, served straight from the oven.
According to legend, on the day Chelsea Buns were first served some 50,000 people queued to buy one. Hanoverian royalty are said to have been enthusiastic fans of the Chelsea Bun House.
What equipment do I need ?
- Optional: A stand mixer – I use my KitchenAid stand mixer to knead the dough as it makes light work of kneading. Don’t worry if you don’t have a stand mixer. You’ll need a bit of elbow grease but you can easily knead by hand.
- A 23 cm / 9 inch square baking tin – just the right size to take 9 buns for the classic square shape of the Chelsea Bun. I use my favourite Masterclass tin. It’s heavy gauge steel ensures a nice even bake. (Master Class baking tins come with a 20 year guarantee) A quality tin is a worthwhile investment.
What ingredients do I need ?
For ingredient quantities, scroll down to the recipe card.
- Bread flour – I use Marriage’s white bread flour for its high gluten content, essential for a soft and fluffy bun.
- Yeast – I prefer Dove’s Farm instant yeast (often called fast action yeast or quick yeast) because it’s easy to use.
- Sugar – only three tablespoons in the dough as there is plenty of sweetness in the butter filling and sticky glaze.
- Salted butter – to enrich the dough and give it flavour.
- Milk – essential for delivering a lovely soft bun.
- Dark brown sugar – I like to use a darker sugar as it contains more molasses which gives a lovely caramel flavour to the butter.
- Butter – I’ve used salted butter which gives the filling a more balanced flavour.
- Spices – I’ve used cinnamon and mixed spice, the classic flavour in a Chelsea Bun.
- Dried fruit – I’ve used sultanas but you can use currants or a mix of both.
- Caster sugar – gives an extra sugary hit as well as giving a golden colour to the finished Chelsea Buns.
- Milk – helps to give colour to the buns too.
How to make Easy Homemade Chelsea Buns
Chelsea Buns are much easier to make than you might think. If you have a stand mixer, it’s even easier – I use my Kitchen Aid.
Make your dough
- First, warm the milk in the microwave for one minute so the liquid temperature is tepid to warm. At this temperature the yeast is encouraged to start working – too high a temperature will kill the yeast.
- Add all your dough ingredients to the mixer bowl of a free standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Knead on a low setting for about 10 minutes until your dough is smooth and elastic.
- Alternatively, mix ingredients in a large bowl until they come together and then knead the dough on a work surface.
- An easy way to check your dough is ready is to use the windowpane test. Pinch off a small piece of dough and gently stretch it apart. Hold it up to the light and it should be translucent and free from big holes.
- Leave your dough to rise in a warm place without any draughts until it has almost doubled in size. About 1 ½ hours.
Make your filling
- Beat the dark brown sugar, butter and spice to a spreadable butter mix.
- Now it’s time to turn out your dough and gently roll out into a rectangle.
- Spread with spiced butter and sprinkle with the sultanas.
- Roll up like a Swiss roll/jelly roll and pinch the long seam together with your fingers.
- Cut into 9 equal slices and arrange in your prepared baking tin. Leave no more than 2.5 cm (1 ins) between each bun. The hallmark of the Chelsea Bun is its square shape. A 23 cm/9 inch square baking tin is just the right size to take 9 buns.
- Cover and leave to rise for about 45 minutes.
Baking and glazing
- Bake for 20 minutes and then brush with glaze before returning to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
- An easy way to check your Chelsea Buns are thoroughly cooked is to measure their internal temperature, ideally 77°C. I use my Thermapen and get a reading within 3 seconds.
- Leave to rest in the tin for 10 minutes before lifting out all nine buns.
- Place on a cooling rack and tear your buns apart.
- Serve with a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy a warm Homemade Chelsea Bun.
How long do they keep ?
Fresh is definitely best. Having said that, Easy Homemade Chelsea Buns will keep for 2 to 3 days stored in an airtight container. You can refresh your buns and serve them warm – simply bake for 10 minutes at 160°C / 320°F Fan.
Can I freeze Homemade Chelsea Buns ?
Yes, you can ! Homemade Chelsea Buns freeze really well.
Open freeze and then transfer to a freezer bag or sealed container.
Will keep for up to three months.
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Easy Homemade Chelsea Buns
- 1 23 cm/9 inch square baking tin lined with baking parchment
- 450 g strong white bread flour
- 1 tbsp instant yeast – I use Doves Farm
- 3 tbsp caster sugar / superfine sugar
- 115 g softened salted butter
- 200 ml warm milk
- 1 egg – beaten
- 50 g softened salted butter
- 35 g soft dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 125 g sultanas
- 2 tbs milk
- 4 tbsp caster sugar / superfine sugar
Make your dough
- Place all the dough ingredients, either in the bowl of an electric mixer or in a large mixing bowl.
- In an electric mixer, fit dough hook and mix on slow speed number 1 for approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Then mix on speed number 2 for 8 to 10 minutes.
- For hand mixing, stir the ingredients together until they form a ball and then knead for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Check your dough is sufficiently smooth and elastic to pass the windowpane test.
- Place your dough in a large greased mixing bowl and cover. Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size – about 1 ½ hours.
Make your spiced butter
- Beat the dark brown sugar, butter and spices to a spreadable butter mix.
Shape your Chelsea Buns
- Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and stretch out into a rectangle shape.
- Roll out to roughly 35cm x 25 cm (14″ x 10″).
- Spread the dough with spiced butter and then sprinkle with the sultanas.
- Starting from a long side, tightly roll up the dough like a Swiss roll or jelly roll. Pinch the long seam together with your fingers.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into 9 even slices. Place each slice face down in prepared baking tin, leaving no more than 2.5 cm (1 ins) between each bun.
- Cover with a cloth or greased cling film.
- Leave to rise from approximately 30 to 45 minutes until well risen.
Bake and glaze
- Preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C / 180°C Fan / Gas Mark 6 .
- Bake the buns for 20 minutes.
- While your buns are baking, heat the milk and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Do not boil your glaze.
- After 20 minutes baking, brush your Chelsea Buns with glaze before returning to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
- Once baked, leave to rest in the tin for 10 minutes.
- Using the edges of the baking parchment, lift all nine buns from the tin and place on a cooling rack.
- Tear apart and enjoy a warm Chelsea Bun with a cup of tea or coffee.
- Your buns will keep for 2 to 3 days stored in an airtight container. Refresh your buns and serve them warm by baking them for 10 minutes at 160 C Fan.
- Chelsea Buns freeze really well. Open freeze before transferring to a freezer bag or sealed container. Will keep for up to three months.
- Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only.